Although neurocognitive deficits are seen as core to schizophrenia the association between suicidality and neurocognition has received little attention. Our aim was to examine the relationship between neurocognitive variables and suicidal behaviour in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Seventy-eight patients with DSM-IV diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were categorised as either having attempted suicide or not having attempted suicide based on clinical interview and chart review. Attempters and non-attempters were compared on an extensive neuropsychological battery examining pre-morbid and current general cognitive functioning, episodic memory, and executive functioning. Suicide attempters tended to out perform non-attempters across all areas of executive functioning, and showed significantly better performances on measures of attention and verbal fluency. After controlling for relevant clinical and demographic variables, the differences between attempters and non-attempters remained significant for measures of attention (F = 4.97, p = 0.03) and verbal fluency (F = 4.28, p = 0.04). This study adds to existing data that suicide attempters with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder may have higher cognitive functioning than non-attempters. In particular, the preservation of higher executive function may influence the ability to initiate and plan suicidal behaviour.
Trinity College Dublin ->